Why The Need for Certainty is Crippling
(Originally posted June 2017)
Everybody in the world needs some level of Certainty in their lives; it is actually one of our most basic human needs. (There are a total of six needs in all, but the one that most women seem to concentrate on most of the time, is Certainty.)
To have Certainty usually means that we know where our next meal is coming from. For most of us it means that we know where we are going to sleep, how we are going to pay the bills, knowing that our loved ones are going to be okay and ultimately that WE are going to be okay. These are the basics, and thankfully, for the majority of us, most of the time, we've got them covered.
But there are many other ways that we like to get Certainty as well. We may look for it in the form of Stability, Safety, Security, Predictability, Comfort, and Control. When we have a habit of checking and re-checking things, the need for Certainty is driving that behaviour. When we have a tendency to get angry or frustrated because things aren't going the way that we want, Certainty is the need that we are focusing on. And when we find ourselves struggling with the breakup of an intimate relationship, it is because of our need for Certainty that we tend to become distraught and distressed.
Certainty gives us a sense of being and feeling "okay". It allows us to have a certain level of comfort, a feeling of being grounded and in control. As nurturers, it is easy to understand why Certainty is so important to us. We are not only conditioned to believe that it is our job to have a handle on things, but it is written in our DNA. We HAVE to become masters of control. Who else would make sure that the children are looked after? Who else is going to manage the multitude of responsibilities that come from running a household?
Our traditional role was that of the homemaker, the mother, the cook, the cleaner, the mender, the nurse maid, the therapist, the teacher, the accountant, the organizer, the comforter, the support system, the socialite, the entertainer, the hostess, the taxi driver, the purchasing agent, the diplomat, the lover, the sounding board, the planner, and these days one of the breadwinners. Certainty has definitely had to play a major role in helping us to keep it all in check. Without it, where would we be?
When we look at life from the broader perspective, Certainty is up there when it comes to necessity. It has been a wonderful tool for us to use in gauging and managing ourselves and everything in our environments. It has helped us to compartmentalize our lives and helped us stay balanced and focused and assured. It's allowed us to juggle, to manage and to excel in the many areas over which we have had to be responsible, and at the end of the day, it's allowed us to fall asleep knowing that everything was "under control".
So how can it be that the need for Certainty is actually crippling us? It is counter intuitive after all, because we all know, at some level at least, that we really do need it. But how much Certainty do we need and at what cost are we willing to have it?
Certainty becomes a problem when it keeps us from experiencing and enjoying our lives. It becomes an anchor that weighs us down when we become fixated on things that are beyond our control. And it stifles our ability to give and receive love when we spend all our time trying to achieve or control things that don't mean a row of beans at the end of the day.
The thing that we tend to forget about Certainty, is that it was never meant to be the be all and end all to human survival. It was meant as a mechanism to help us maintain a level of balance and assuredness in our lives. Absolute Certainty, after all, is nothing but an illusion. Imagine, for a moment, if, for all those areas of responsibility we have to carry, we had to have Absolute Certainty that each one was totally and completely covered at a level of 100%, all the time! We'd go insane! It would be impossible!
When our fixation on the need for Certainty becomes an obsession, it drives us to the brink of disaster. Think of those people who take every opportunity to check their partner's phone, for instance. Or think about people who suffer from OCD. It is the FOCUS on the need for Certainty that drives us to become obsessive over our health, other people, our relationships, our environments, our finances, our situations and our circumstances. When we develop the belief that we have the ability to have that level of control over things, that's when we get into trouble and that's when everything typically begins to get out of control.
The cost of trying to maintain that level of control is absolutely exhausting. It is a fool's errand, because not only is it impossible to achieve, but it's also futile, expensive and destructive. The constant need for Certainty can interrupt your sleep patterns, destroy your relationships and your physical and mental health, drain you of vital energy, consume your time as well as your focus, and keep you from actually experiencing and enjoying your life.
While it may be great to have a sense of purpose about taking ownership over certain elements of life, it is neither our role nor our responsibility to have to manage the world. Life has it's own set of systems in place for ruling the world, and isn't it wonderful that we get to let ourselves off the hook for such responsibility? As nice as it may be to feel important, it's also very nice to know that we are not the creators or the rulers of the universe. The world, as much as we like to believe and pretend that it does sometimes, does not and was never intended to revolve around us. It's actually okay to let go and to live.
Remember that Certainty is simply a mechanism for measuring and managing all of our responsibilities. It was never meant to maintain a constant and never ending position at the top of our priority list. As with all the other needs, it must remain flexible and fluid. It must be available to us in times of crisis or chaos, so that we can have an anchor to keep us grounded and stable. But it must also have the ability to fall to a lower position so that we can focus our time and our energy on the things in life that are even more important.
Things like Love & Connection, Variety, Growth and Contribution - these things are the required elements that make a life valuable and joyful and meaningful and fun. We have the power to choose how we want to meet our needs - and focusing on Certainty is guaranteed to bring us a particular result. The quality of our lives is not determined by how much control we have or by how well we manage the minute details of life - it is determined by the impact that we have on other people, how much we can experience and enjoy our lives and how we touched the world during the short time in which we lived.
The only Certainty we really ever have in life is death and taxes, and even taxes, to a certain extent, are not guaranteed to last to eternity. Death, as it is a part of life, is the only thing that we can ever really be Certain about. It is guaranteed to come to every single one of us - probably faster than any of us would like to imagine - so why not make the most of the life that we have while we have it? Focus your time, your energy and your efforts on meeting the rest of your needs more often, and you will be guaranteed to have a better quality of life. On that, you can be Certain.
If you need help finding the strength to stand in your power or would like to gain new insight about your situation and/or options, contact me to find out how I can help! I offer a complimentary, one-on-one, Coaching Consultation Session which can help you get clear about what you want, give you a tonne of valuable feedback and introduce you to the tools and strategies of Strategic Intervention. Just click on the link below!
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About the author
Tamara Dodgson is a Certified Strategic Intervention Coach and Life Strategist, trained by Robbins Madanes. She has accumulated over 650 hours of Professional Coaching and has spent the better part of a half century studying, researching and learning about Personal Growth and Development, Self-Help, Spirituality, Leadership, Success, Achievement and Philosophy. She is a writer, philosopher, life coach, mother, fitness enthusiast, nature lover and book fanatic. She is also the proud author of "Designing Your Life - A Guide to Help You Consciously Create Your Future". You can connect with her on Facebook at Forward Coaching & Consulting Services, on her website at www.tamaradodgson.com, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.